El Diario: No tolerance for hate

As federal authorities on Monday revealed that two men had plotted to decapitate African Americans and assassinate Barack Obama, the FBI reported a disturbing trend—for the fifth straight year, hate crimes against Hispanics are on the rise.

In 2007, Hispanics were 62 percent of the victims of crimes stemming from bias toward ethnicity or national origin. Since 2003, the number of both victims of anti-Hispanic crimes and incidents has increased by 40 percent, according to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).

Whether the statistics reflect the extent of hate crimes is highly questionable. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found it difficult to believe that Mississippi reported no hate crimes for 2007. The Center also emphasized that with undocumented immigrants least likely to report hate crimes, an undercount is more the reality.

What is clear is that hate crimes against Latinos have increased with the hostile tenor of the immigration debate. MALDEF and the National Council of La Raza are educating the public about this trend. But the alert—and more importantly, a firm stand for tolerance—needs to be sounded by a range of leaders and organizations.

As we saw recently in Shenandoah, Pa., a group of white youths was charged with ethnic intimidation in the beating death of Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez. In Staten Island, a man was charged with a hate crime after ramming his vehicle into the doors of three Mexican-operated businesses. Other attacks against Latinos—from vile speech to violence and worse—are described at Wecanstopthehate.org and http://www.splcenter.org/.

Silence in the face of this trend can be just as dangerous. We strongly urge elected and religious leaders to be visible, vocal and relentless in denouncing hate and demanding justice—before more lives are destroyed.


NCLR Challenges Distortions Made About Minority Communities

Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, expressed grave concern about the atmosphere of attacks and distortions on cable television and other media that have focused negative attention on low-income and minority communities. Pundits and others have blamed these groups for the financial crisis and accused them of subverting the political process. Murguía noted that these attacks, broadly aimed at low-income communities and communities of color, encourage division and discord at a time when Americans should be coming together to address our nation’s concerns.

Since January, NCLR has shined the spotlight on organizations and media outlets that demonize immigrants and minorities. Through its website, www.WeCanStopTheHate.org, NCLR has documented the proliferation of hate groups and the extent to which they appear as “experts” in the media on issues like immigration.

“We will not stand by while outright distortions dominate the airwaves,” said Murguía. “These falsehoods foster fear of minority communities and attempt to scapegoat them for our nation’s financial crisis and other problems.”

Murguía noted that for several weeks, pundits and others have made outrageous arguments that mortgage loans to minorities pursuant to the Community Reinvestment Act caused the financial crisis. Since then, respected economists have refuted this claim convincingly.

Recently, the Social Contract Press, an organization with well-documented ties to white supremacists and a long history of publishing white supremacist works, released a study alleging that large numbers of immigrants have improperly registered to vote. Attorney generals from several states have looked into this claim and found no truth to the allegation.

This was followed by other accusations of fraudulent voter registrations with a focus on The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). “ACORN’s long history of helping low-income and minority Americans lift their voices and participate in our democracy is worthy of respect,” Murguía said.

”It is a sad day when some try to taint the intentions of a new generation of eligible voters at a time when there is an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for the political process,” she added. “Everyone who is eligible to vote should register and participate in this historic election. We cannot tolerate voter suppression and intimidation.”


Join Call for Racist NC Sheriff Steve Bizzell's Resignation

Hall of Shame: Sheriff Steve Bizzell - Johnston County, NC - Hates tacos and spaghetti

We Can Stop the Hate, an NCLR anti-bias initiative, has launched a national campaign to demand the resignation of racist anti-Latino politician Steve Bizzell. He is the idiot in Johnston County, North Carolina who uses his position of authority to insult, degrade and harass residents of Latino heritage with vile racial slurs. Oh...and he's the Sheriff!

BTW: NC's undistinguished Senator Dole features Bizzell in one of her anti-immigrant political ads. Apparently, they're two peas in a pod. How unfortunate for NC. The good news is that Dole may be beaten, and Obama may win the state, on November 4th -- in what was until this year a solid Red state.

In other words, Bizzell and his kind may begin re-evaluating their politics or experience the fate of the Dodo.

What follows is NCLR's call to action:

Join the call for the resignation of a bigoted Sheriff in North Carolina

In a recent article in Raleigh's The News & Observer, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell was quoted accusing Latinos of "breeding like rabbits," calling Mexicans "trashy," and stating, "When people think about illegal Mexicans, you know the first thing they think of? Driving drunk and shooting."

These are just some of the inflammatory things that Steve Bizzell had to say about Latinos. As a result, a coalition of progressive groups in North Carolina has asked that the Johnston County commissioners push for Bizzell's resignation.

Not only is Sheriff Bizzell still on the job, he can even be seen featured in this campaign ad supporting Senator Elizabeth Dole.

Help us make the case that bigotry has no place in the sheriff's office or on the campaign trail. If you live in North Carolina, write to North Carolina's congressional delegation to ask them to support the call for Sheriff Bizzell's resignation. If you don’t live in North Carolina, you can still write to your own state representatives. Stand up to hate by forwarding this message to five of your friends and encouraging them to sign up for We Can Stop The Hate alerts. Together, we can make a difference.

The National Council of La Raza